The Co-Operative Model

The Credit Union Difference

Credit unions are driven by both economic and social concerns. They are community-based organizations that care not only about the bottom line of their businesses, but also the needs of their members and the quality of life in their communities. Credit unions differ from other businesses in other ways as well.

  • Credit unions have members, not customers.

Each person who deposits money in a credit union becomes an owner. Banks have customers who have no voice in how the bank is operated. They are owned by investors who expect a certain return on their investments. Credit union members share directly in the profits, through patronage refunds or lower service charges.

Credit unions are democratically controlled.

They are run by a volunteer board of directors elected by and from the membership. Each member has one vote. Bank customers don’t have voting rights, can’t be elected to the board, and have no control over what the bank does.

Credit unions are not-for-profit businesses.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t profitable. After expenses are paid and reserves set aside, surplus earnings are returned to members in the forms of higher dividends, lower loan rates and free or low-cost services. Only banks’ investors get to share in their profits.

Credit unions are governed by co-operative values.

To learn more about the co-operative model, please read about the 7 co-operative principles, and for more on this topic, see What is a Credit Union?

Open to All
In the early days of the credit union movement, most were open only to people who shared common bonds, such as where they lived, worked or worshipped. Today there are just three closed-bond credit unions left in Manitoba – all the rest are open to everyone.

The three closed-bond credit unions are all located in Winnipeg. Their bonds of association are based on:

North Winnipeg Canadians of Ukrainian heritage residing in Greater Winnipeg
Carpathia Manitobans of Ukrainian descent
Me-Dian Indian or Metis heritage

Becoming a credit union member is easy. Find a credit union near your home, work place, or in another convenient location. After that, all you have to do is walk in the door, fill out a membership form, pay a small fee for your share and open an account.